A shopping cart has been abandoned in the desert.

It doesn’t matter how seamless a conversion funnel you have if your shopping cart abandonment rate still goes through the roof.

Your ecommerce store could have everything your customers have been looking for and it may offer some of the most exceptional navigation and shopping experience. Yet you may still find people dropping off at the checkout stage even after they’ve added several items to their cart.

It’s a Common Ecommerce Problem

Unfortunately for ecommerce merchants, this happens more often than you’d like to think. The Baymard Institute collected data across 41 studies and found that the overall shopping cart abandonment rate averaged at 69.57%.

Many of those abandoned carts are unavoidable because people may simply be researching, exploring their options or comparing prices. Yet in many cases, people might have abandoned their carts because of situations that are within your control such as a slow-loading webpage, complicated checkouts, etc.

So, a few changes in your approach and to your website could make all the difference for some cart abandoners. The idea is to figure out the reason for your high cart abandonment rate and then identify effective fixes that could help you turn things around.

Let’s dive deep into the topic of abandoned shopping carts, what they are and why they happen. Most importantly, you’ll discover some highly actionable steps for abandoned cart recovery so you can turn those valuable clicks and visits into revenue. 

What Is Cart Abandonment Rate?

Shopping cart abandonment happens when a shopper starts the checkout process for an item but doesn’t finish the purchase. So shopping cart abandonment rate refers to the percentage of incomplete transactions. You get this rate by dividing the total number of completed transactions by the total number of transactions initiated and then multiplying by 100.

Here’s the formula:

(# of complete transactions / # of initiated transactions) X 100 = shopping cart abandonment rate (%)

For instance, let’s say 200 visitors added items to their cart but only 65 of them ended up completing their purchase. In this case, your cart abandonment rate would be:

(65/200) X 100 = 32.5%

7 Reasons Why People Abandon Their Carts

The first step to fix the issue with shopping cart abandonment is to ask the question, “Why do my visitors abandon their carts in the first place?” You could run tests, conduct surveys and collect feedback to get the answer you need. Before that, however, make sure you understand the top reasons why most people abandon their shopping carts.

According to the Baymard Institute study, here are the top reasons for cart abandonment:

  1. Extra Costs Are Too High – Half of all survey respondents in the list that Baymard Institute compiled said they abandoned their carts because the extra costs such as shipping, tax and other fees were too high.
  2. The Need to Create an Account – Among the respondents, 28% said that they abandoned their carts because the site wanted them to create an account to finish the purchase.
  3. A Long/Complicated Checkout Process – In line with the second reason, 21% abandoned their carts because the checkout process took too long or was too complicated.
  4. Lack of Transparency about Total Cost – In relation to the first reason, 18% also abandoned their carts because they couldn’t see or calculate the total cost up-front.
  5. Slow Delivery – Another 18% abandoned their carts because the delivery was too slow.
  6. Lack of Trust in the Site – Out of all survey respondents, 17% abandoned the transaction because they didn’t trust the site with their credit card info.
  7. Website Crashes and Errors – A fair percentage (13%) also stopped mid-way with their purchase not out of their own choice but because the website crashed or displayed an error.

How to Avoid Shopping Cart Abandonment

Now let’s move on to the most important part: How to avoid abandoned shopping carts. Many of these tips will help you prevent shoppers from abandoning their carts in the first place. Some will even help you re-engage cart abandoners and recover lost sales.

1: Optimize Your Site Performance

One of the biggest things that could turn away someone who wants to buy your product is a site that doesn’t perform as it should. Perhaps it takes extremely long to load pages or maybe it keeps crashing and displaying error messages when shoppers try to checkout. Regardless of the specifics, make sure your website’s in top shape if you want to reduce your cart abandonment rate.

Optimize its speed, for starters, so shoppers don’t have to wait too long to complete their transactions. Use the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google to test how quickly your site runs. This tool also gives you suggestions on how to improve your page speed.

Use the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google to test how quickly your site runs. This tool also gives you suggestions on how to improve your page speed.
Source: Google

In addition, be on the lookout for website crashes and server errors that could disrupt the conversion flow. You could even conduct a UX audit to detect any issues in usability and fix them before it’s too late.

2: Invest in Seamless Checkout

A long and complicated checkout process could not only confuse your prospective customers; it could frustrate them to the point where they abandon their purchase altogether. Once shoppers decide to add something to their cart, don’t give them the opportunity to change their minds as they go through a lengthy checkout process.

Instead, make sure your checkout process is easy and quick so they can complete the purchase without a second thought. Minimize the number of form fields, for starters. Only collect the most critical information such as name, address and contact details.

Be sure to streamline the checkout process to reduce unnecessary pages and steps. For instance, you could ditch the page where customers enter a coupon code. Instead, add a coupon field to the initial order summary page and cut back on the steps to complete checkout. 

Here’s an example of a streamlined checkout page from Yankee Candle:

Here’s an example of a streamlined checkout page from Yankee Candle.

You could even include a progress indicator, clearly showing how far along your customers are in the checkout process. This reassures them that they’re almost finished and helps reduce the frustration of waiting. For example, the Heat Hot Sauce Shop has a progress bar indicating the steps to complete checkout.

The store even has an express checkout option with accelerated checkout platforms such as Amazon Pay and PayPal to further simplify the process for some shoppers.

For example, the Heat Hot Sauce Shop has a progress bar indicating the steps to complete checkout.

3: Offer Guest Checkout Options

As highlighted earlier, having to create an account is the second most common reason why prospective customers become cart abandoners. Sure, you want as many people as possible to create an account with your ecommerce store. However, ask yourself whether that’s worth the risk of losing out on prospective sales.

Make sure you give shoppers an option to check out as guests so they can easily complete their purchases without registering. You could always follow up later with a reward for signing up (such as a 10% discount on their first order with a new account). What matters right now is getting that sale and turning prospects into paying customers.

For instance, LEGO gives new customers the option to either register for a new account or checkout as guests.

For instance, LEGO gives new customers the option to either register for a new account or checkout as guests.

4: Be Transparent about Costs Up-Front

According to the Baymard Institute survey, high extra costs are the top reason why people abandon their carts. One way to avoid this type of shopping cart abandonment is by displaying cost up-front before shoppers begin the checkout process. Being unable to see the extra costs up-front is another one of the top reasons for cart abandonment.

You could give shoppers the option to calculate shipping costs and taxes before they add items to their shopping cart. Shoppers could enter their zip code to calculate how much it’ll cost to ship the item to their city, plus how much the total order would be with taxes. This is particularly important for orders that don’t qualify for free shipping.

Even if this isn’t viable, you could still display the estimated extra costs in the shopping cart so shoppers can easily remove items that they feel would cost too much. For example, Nordstrom displays an estimated tax for items in your shopping cart.

For example, Nordstrom displays an estimated tax for items in your shopping cart.

5: Offer Express Shipping Options

Another reason why shoppers abandon their online cart? The delivery is too slow and the order isn’t going to arrive on time. So while it’s good to offer free standard delivery, give your shoppers the option to upgrade to express shipping for a small fee.

This gives them the freedom to choose whether they want to take advantage of your free shipping offer and wait a little longer or to pay a little extra and get it sooner. So there’s a good chance that you’ll win over two different types of customers – those who want free shipping and those who need fast delivery.

Amazon.com even offers its customers the option to get free express delivery if they order within a certain timeframe.

Amazon.com offers its customers the option to get free express delivery if they order within a certain timeframe.

6: Enhance Site Credibility with Trust Seals

Some shoppers also may abandon their carts because they don’t trust your website enough with their credit card information. Perhaps the design looks sketchy or they’ve realized that the site doesn’t have an HTTPS link. (HTTPS stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure and indicates that the information you send to the website is secure.)

So while getting an HTTPS certificate should be a mandate for any ecommerce store, there are also additional steps to help you enhance your website credibility. According to another study by the Baymard Institute, visual elements can enhance the perceived security of your website, which can further reduce cart abandonment rates.

For instance, encapsulating sensitive fields can help improve the perceived security for customers even if it doesn’t have any technical impact. In addition, trust seals and SSL seals can further confirm your site’s trustworthiness.

SSL seals indicate that a secure socket layer (SSL) protocol encrypts the communication between the website and the shopper’s browser. You get these seals from SSL certificate vendors such as Trustwave, Comodo, Norton, etc. As for trust seals, these are indicators of a business’ authenticity and come from trusted third parties such as the Better Business Bureau and Google.

So both of these seals offer an excellent solution for businesses that want to ramp up their site security and make people feel more confident about shopping with them. For example, Asos has a Norton SSL seal on the checkout page.

For example, Asos has a Norton SSL seal on the checkout page.

7: Re-Engage Cart Abandoners With Retargeting Campaigns

No matter what you do, you still stand a chance of losing out on potential sales because of unavoidable circumstances. Perhaps the shopper had to run an errand or get back to work and forgot all about the items in their cart. Maybe they were just browsing and wanted to consider all their options.

Regardless of what the reason may be, all hope isn’t lost just because someone abandoned their cart. You could take this as an opportunity to win them back through retargeting campaigns. Include purchase reminder emails in your email sequence, for instance. You could also target cart abandoners with social media ads reminding them about the abandoned items in their cart. The idea is to take that abandoned cart and finally turn it into a conversion.

For instance, Nanoleaf sent out cart abandonment emails, humanizing its product and reminding prospective customers about their forgotten carts. The company ended up recovering 30% of its abandoned carts as a result of this campaign.

8: Offer Multiple Payment Options

The best way to tackle the issue with shopping cart abandonment is by eliminating any potential reason for shoppers to abandon their carts. This includes offering payment methods that appeal to them. Not everyone wants to use their credit cards to pay for everything, so giving them the option to buy your products using another payment method is essential to get them to convert.

While credit and debit cards are still the most preferred payment methods for U.S. shoppers, a large portion likes the freedom to pay with third-party platforms like PayPal. Additionally, prepaid cards and gift cards are other popular options with 41% of shoppers voting for them.

While credit and debit cards are still the most preferred payment methods for U.S. shoppers, a large portion likes the freedom to pay with third-party platforms.
Source: Statista

Say Goodbye to Abandoned Carts

For ecommerce stores, abandoned shopping carts aren’t completely avoidable as you have limited control over shoppers’ choices and decisions. At the same time, you can significantly reduce the number of unnecessary abandonment if you follow the steps given above.

It’s all about delivering an exceptional shopping experience and eliminating any hurdles that could get in the way of shoppers converting. At Kantaloupe, we realize that reducing your shopping cart abandonment rate is no mean feat. It takes time and effort along with expertise and proper tools. So get in touch with the Kantaloupe team to plan and execute a powerful strategy for abandoned cart recovery and prevention.

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